Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Bodyweight Strength

The Importance of Bodyweight Strength

If I had to choose 1 fitness “tool” to work with, do you know which one it would be? Nope, not a dumbbell. Nope, not a medicine ball. Nope, not a Kettlebell. Do you give up? My answer is your body! Our body is the best tool in the fitness world. You can become more athletic, build explosiveness, increase your functional strength and reduce your chances of injury by just learning how to strengthen your ability to move and control your own body. When you think about the beginning of time, when we were running around trying to hunt, gather and feed our families, we didn’t have access to artificial, man made equipment like the ones mentioned above. We used our own body. This is how we used to work. As training tools like dumbbells, ropes, medicine balls, barbells and kettlebells are important to maintain variety in a program, it’s not the “end all be all” of fitness.

Way too many individuals lack their ability to move and stabilize their own body but yet those individuals are the ones lifting weights and using other pieces of equipment. Why you ask? Well, it’s the resources that are shoved in our face. Walk into any mainstream gym and the first thing you will see loaded in the floor area are machines, free weights and cardio equipment. Again, these are necessities in the fitness world but if you cannot do regular push-ups, chin-ups and bodyweight single leg squats correctly, why should we be digging into free weights and loaded machines?

Take 10 high school football players. See if they can do 10 perfect bodyweight pull-ups, 25 perfect bodyweight push-ups and 10 perfect single leg squats, I highly doubt if every kid can do this feat. But yet, we can walk into the high school weight room and see these kids performing heavy bench presses, squats and Olympic lifts. This is a recipe for sore shoulders, knees and lower backs. Because they can’t control their own bodyweight, but yet forced to lift external loads, they are creating more dysfunction in their body, which leads them down a path of chronic injury and pain later in life.

This video is a prime example of how high school weight rooms focus on machine based exercises. Except the crunches (which have no function), I didn't see one bodyweight exercise being performed.

Try it out for the next few weeks in your fitness program. Take out the majority of your equipment and focus on more bodyweight exercises. You can do push-ups, chin-ups, 1-leg squats, shoulder touches (push-up position and you tap your opposite shoulder with your hand), planks, side planks, and push-up walks (stay in a push-up position and slowly walk forward, back and side to side). The list goes on.

The positives of doing this will give you more shoulder, core and hip stability, you will enhance your kinetic (full body) awareness and your weight training lifts will get better. You actually limit your absolute strength when you limit bodyweight strength. It’s that important!

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